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December 1st, 1913 – The Union of Crete with Greece

Like many Greek regions which revolted during the Greek War of Independence of 1821, Crete remained under Ottoman Control.

Several major Cretan rebellions followed: 1841, 1858, 1866-69, 1878, 1895-98, all were brutally put down.

The continual fight for freedom by the Cretans maintained pressure on the Ottomans. In 1878, the Cretans secured some concessions and it was granted a form of autonomy, but remained under Ottoman suzerainty.

By 1889, the Ottomans had reneged on all concessions in the agreement. The Cretans continued to fight for and work for the freedom of Crete, its people and its Union with Greece.

In 1898, Turkish mobs went on a rampage, massacring hundreds of Cretans. This would be the beginning of the end for the Turkish occupation of the island, international condemnation of the atrocities resulted in the ousting of all Ottoman occupation forces.

A High Commissioner arrived from Greece and a Cretan Gendarmerie force was established, at this time the island of Crete was effectively under International administration.

Very quickly though, Greeks started to assume control of various aspects of the island and by 1906, Greece de-facto controlled Crete. However, it was not until the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, when Crete officially was incorporated into the Modern Greek State.

Raising of the Greek flag in Chania, Crete. December 1, 2020.
Raising of the Greek flag in Chania, Crete. December 1, 2020.

Stavros Arnaoutakis, Regional Governor of Crete, memorialized this momentous achievement in Greek modern history in a social media post.

“Today we honor the people who fought and sacrificed to see their homeland united with Greece. December 1, 1913, the day of the Union, bears the indelible mark of Eleftherios Venizelos,” he said. 

“The great Cretan politician who proved in practice what the concept of patriotism and national interest means. The Cretan who surpassed history because he weighed on the international situation and used the international balance of power for the benefit of his country,” he continued

“Today, here in Chania, we draw strength from the struggles, the courage, the self-denial of our ancestors. We get strength and optimism that we will all overcome this difficulty together,” he concluded.

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